Prep Baseball Report

Inside The Illinois Rankings: 2020 Risers

By Drew Locascio & Andy Sroka
Illinois Staff

On Tuesday, we released our updated and expanded Illinois Class of 2020 Rankings and took a detailed look at the top-10 prospects. Today, we’re going to look at the highest risers among the 120 ranked prospects.

Of that group, we actually covered a few of the most significant risers in yesterday’s post: SS Ed Howard IV (Mount Carmel; Oklahoma), C Jack Payton (Brother Rice; Louisville), RHP Jack Crowder (Plainfield East; Illinois), and SS Anthony Livermore (Mount Carmel; uncommitted). All four of these prospects warrant a nod on this risers list considering they each put together strong summers to land on the prestigious top 10. Howard climbed five huge spots from No. 6 to become the top-ranked prospect within his state’s class. Crowder and Livermore both jumped from their former homes in the 20s into the top 10 – a big leap for two players realizing their upside.

Looking past the top 10, you’ll quickly find 2B/OF Tre Hondras (Homewood-Flossmoor; uncommitted). The PBR Future Games invitee made the most of his time at the event. Hondras, who ran a 6.65 laser-timed 60, plays with relentlessness and is always trying to push the envelope to put pressure on the defense. The 6-foot, 180-pound, versatile athlete, has present bat speed, takes consistent competitive at-bats and can handle velocity. Hondras, now in the top 15, is one of the top uncommitted position players in the state.  

Tre Hondras (8.1.18)

One of the biggest risers in the entire update is also our third Mount Carmel representative on the list: 3B/1B Joshua Houston (uncommitted). Houston, who jumped more than 30 spots, will not wow you with his frame or athleticism, but he proved over four days at Future Games, and throughout the spring for the Caravan, that he has one of the top right-handed bats in the state. Houston is plenty strong and has advanced feel for the barrel; he stays on top of the ball and consistently backspins the baseball to all fields while covering the entire plate. Defensively, it remains to be seen where he will end up but his talent with the bat is undeniable.

Another Future Gamer on the rise following the event was LHP Isaiah Coupet (Homewood-Flossmoor; uncommitted). The 6-foot left-hander turned heads with his quick, live arm and fastball that he ran up to 88 mph. To go along with his live fastball, he features a curveball and changeup that flash swing-and-miss action. Coupet, who climbed more than 20 spots, is one of the state’s top uncommitted left-handed arms.

Another arm making their top-30 debut is RHP Mason Burns (Normal Community; uncommitted). The 6-foot-3, right-hander, has a high floor and is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. Burns threw two hitless innings and struck out a pair at Future Games earlier this month. Burns has clean, loose, easy arm action, three-pitch feel, and his fastball sat 84-87 mph at the event.

Mason Burns (8.2.18) 

One of the top defensive middle infielders in the state, SS Cal Hejza (Oswego), was another prospect who climbed 20-plus spots and currently sits in the top 30. Hejza, who recently committed to Illinois, plays the game with an extremely high baseball IQ and is an extension of the coaching staff on the field. He's constantly instructing his teammates, looking to throw behind runners, and has an advanced internal clock in his head. Hejza will continue to ascend as he matures and adds strength.

Scrolling down a little further, you'll find OF Ryan Thiesse (St. Charles North; uncommitted) sitting within the updated top 50. Thiesse, who was another Future Games participant, ran one of the top 60 times on Team Illinois, a 6.67, laser-timed. The 5-foot-11, 182-pound, right-handed hitter, started on varsity all spring for the North Stars and has consistently proven that he can handle velocity. In his second game at Future Games, Thiesse delivered consecutive run-scoring singles against a pair of high-level arms.

Some other notable helium-filled prospects on the latest 2020 board:

Stay tuned for yet another inside look at the Illinois 2020 rankings, when we dive into some of the top newcomers to find their names in the top 120.